It has been two years since I last tasted a wine from Left Coast Estate. That experience, part of a Live Wine Blogging session held at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi, was hectic and rushed. This second opportunity to taste a collection of Left Coast wines, which we received as tasting samples, was relaxed and focused — just the way I prefer to taste wine.
Left Coast Estate is situated on rolling hills northwest of Salem, Oregon in the Willamette Valley AVA. The name of the estate and winery comes from the habit of Midwesterners to call the West Coast of the U.S. the Left Coast. In a Life Between the Vines podcast, winemaker Joe Wright goes on to note with a smile that a large number of the employees at Left Coast are left-handed. Go figure.
The name of the winery may be somewhat whimsical, but the folks at Left Coast take winemaking and the environment seriously. The vineyards and winery are LIVE Certified Sustainable and their Salmon Safe Certification ensures that their agricultural watershed is clean enough for local salmon to thrive and spawn.
Beyond the vineyards, Left Coast Cellars generates much of its own electricity via solar installations. The winery recycles paper, glass, plastic and cardboard from the winery as well as giving a per-bottle discount on Left Coast wine for every Left Coast wine bottle returned to the winery. Then there is their participation in Oregon’s Adopt-a-Highway Program.
There are hiking trails, a lake and a goat meadow in addition to the vineyards, tasting room and café. And there are honey bees and 400 year-old oak trees.
Vineyards are planted to a variety of clones and rootstocks over the variable soil types with row orientation specific to each site. Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Meunier, Viognier and Pinot Blanc now comprise the plantings from which winemaker Joe Wright makes the Left Coast wines. All wines are sourced exclusively from Left Coast Estate vineyards.
2017 Left Coast Estate Pinot Gris, The Orchard, Willamette Valley — pale yellow in the glass with aromas of citrus and ripe pears. Flavors of yellow melon, ripe pears and gravelly minerality are supported by juicy acidity. The generous flavors are at least moderate in length. 13.7% abv. SRP $24.
This lively Pinot Gris is 91% Pinot Gris, 9% Pinot Blanc with two clones of each variety represented in the blend. Fermentation and aging took place in stainless steel.
I remember our first visit to the Willamette Valley perhaps 10 years ago now. In addition to being impressed by Pinot Noir, I was really surprised by the quality of the Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris I tasted. This wine brings back all of those delicious memories.
2017 Left Coast Estate Rosé, Willamette Valley — pale salmon in the glass with aromas of stone fruit. Flavors of peaches, blackberries and Meyer lemons finish with bright acidity. 13.4% abv. SRP $24
40% Pinot Meunier and 6% Pinot Blanc are blended with Pinot Noir to make this lively rosé. Fermentation takes place in neutral French oak as does aging for 4 months. It’s fall and we are just now tasting this wine, but no matter. It is delicious regardless of the season. Remember, rosé is not just for summer anymore.
2017 Left Coast Estate White Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley — pale yellow in the glass with the palest blush cast. Aromas of summery stone fruit are followed by flavors of ripe berries, stone fruit and dusty minerality. Juicy acidity keeps the flavors light and a bit of roundness and weight in the mouth lends richness. 13.7% abv. SRP $18.
This is essentially a white wine made from red grapes (Pinot Noir) with just a dollop (9%) of Pinot Blanc added. The Pinot Noir is crushed at very cold temperatures so that the juice does not pick up any color from the skins. Fermentation and aging took place in stainless steel.
This is a wine that will be a conversation starter. Many of your friends may not have ever had a white Pinot Noir and it’s a great opportunity to talk grapes, winemaking and grape color. Plus, it’s just darn delicious. I remember the first time I tasted a white Pinot Noir, also at a Wine Bloggers Conference, I was full of questions for the friend who poured it for me.
This is a group of wines that at first glance you might think of as summer wines, and they would certainly be delicious on a balmy afternoon. But, all of these wines will make great partners for appetizers or light meals regardless of the season. I’m even thinking these wines would be a bright, lively addition to your Thanksgiving celebration. These are the perfect wines to get the party started and will keep the party going at the dinner table as well.
Thanks to Donna White Communications for sending this delightful sampler of the Willamette Valley our way.